The Button Box: Memories of Fact and Fiction

My second story “The Button Box,” is now in the Kindle Store!

You can read it here:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00731D3PI

If you don’t have a Kindle, click on the above link, go to the tab Free Reading Apps, and download a Kindle app for pc, mac, tablet or smartphone.

Here’s the cover!

I based the story on an obsession with a box that symbolized my start in life on an island in the Caribbean Sea. The island exploded in political turmoil, and my parents fled. I held tightly to the early years, listening to my parents’ nostalgic conversations about a lost life. I grew up and continued to mourn for a time and place I had only experienced briefly. I filled in what I didn’t know by looking at photographs and imagining what could have been. The images became memories; they felt real.

“The Button Box” tells the story of a young woman, tormented with dreams and memories of a box she played with at her great-aunt’s house in 1950s Cuba, who travels back to her homeland hoping to bring it to America. But it is not only the box she craves. Her secret desire is to stitch together the safe and comfortable life she abruptly left behind with the challenging life she has forged as a journalist in Miami.

Will she find the box? If she does, what will that mean to her life going forward? Can any immigrant unify two very different parts of herself?

Sigmund Freud proposed that “dreams [are] forms of ‘wish-fulfillment’—attempts by the unconscious to resolve a conflict of some sort, whether recent or from the recesses of the past” and could be used to determine the psyche of the individual. The writer Anais Nin, who I encountered as an undergraduate in Berkeley, drew heavily on the ideas of Freud, publishing seven volumes of a diary inspired by dreams, memories and the techniques of French author Marcel Proust, who, in is his eight volume Remembrance of Things Past, dissects mundane details to create a rich tapestry of experience.

Nin, Freud, and Proust. What joy to read their writing!

All three are embedded in my story of memories, a blend of fact, fiction and dreams. Many times, I find it hard to make a distinction.  I doubt what is real and then conclude the fiction is the fact.

I work shopped the story at the Paris Workshop, and, perhaps because my Cuban background seemed exotic,  fellow participants exclaimed, “Ahhh, like Garcia Marquez.” What my colleagues were expressing was a delight in the magical realism that I had injected into the story.  I ended it with a purely fantastical scene like those of many Latin American writers.

I work shopped it again at Florida International University, and the magical realism was knocked down; so I turned it into a personal essay with minimal bouts of fiction. But it seemed that the story didn’t fit into that category.  I have let “The Button Box” have its way. It is a remembrance of things past, combined with fictional elements to drive plot. And, as I recalled events and sensations, I conjured new ones and put back in the brush strokes of fantasy.

“The Button Box” is part of a short story collection entitled Through the Branches of the Guava Tree that focuses on the lives of Cuban Americans.   You can read my first story “Beyond,” also part of this collection, on the Amazon Kindle store.

Remember, you can download a Free Kindle app to read it on your PC, Mac, tablet or smartphones.

Hope you like it!

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One comment on “The Button Box: Memories of Fact and Fiction

  1. Cecilia, I remember The Button Box from the Paris workshop. It is a wonderful story that I still think about. I’m so glad it’s available for everyone to read.

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